David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

There are 99,000 families in Louisiana and Mississippi living in FEMA trailers this Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving.

I was in Tennessee yesterday, scene of this year's most racially-charged Senate race. I got the holiday gluttony off to a roaring start with a stop at Interstate Barbecue in Memphis. It was my first time, and I now mourn all those lost years. If you ever get the chance, it's a must-stop. You can't go wrong with the pork ribs.

The family that runs the joint has a little girl, the same age as my daughter, who was helping out for the holiday. They hit it off, and I sat back and watched as two five-year-olds--one white, one black--sat side-by-side in their own booth coloring in their coloring books, casting sidelong glances at the each other's work and clearly basking in each other's presence. Above them on the wall was a photo of Rep. Harold Ford, Jr.

I was struck as I looked around at the restaurant's patrons--half black, half white--that this is Memphis. This is the South. So when someone like Bob Corker comes along and runs a race-baiting campaign against a black man like Harold Ford, dredging up old prejudices and old fears, and wins, I am angry and disappointed, but I don't despair the way I used to.

People like Senator-elect Corker can still harken to an earlier era, but that kind of appeal more and more requires a willful ignorance of the reality that is all around you now in the South, the reality of two little girls, one with black kinky hair, the other with board-straight brown hair, hunched together over coloring books in a restaurant frequented by blacks and whites. It is what the South has been for a long time now. It has happened gradually (never fast enough) and sometimes almost imperceptibly. But the changes have come.

Justin Rood has the background on the impeachment of then-federal judge Alcee Hastings, now a Democratic congressman from Florida and Nancy Pelosi's possible choice to chair the House Intelligence Committee.

I don't want to let pass the reinstatement of security clearances for House Intelligence Committee staffer Larry Hanauer without commenting on what an ugly incident this was.

Here you have a mid-level Democratic staffer stripped of his ability to do his job by the committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) as political payback against Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), the ranking member who publicly released a report of an internal committee investigation of whether and how convicted felon Duke Cunningham used his position on the committee to advance his corrupt schemes.

Poor Hanauer was caught in the middle. His security clearances were suspended not because of anything he had to do with the Cunningham report but because in the course of doing his job he had requested and received a copy of the National Intelligence Estimatee on Iraq, another classified report that was later leaked to the New York Times.

There was no evidence that Hanauer was in any way connected to the leak. None. There was only the coincidence of timing. Bear in mind that numerous people inside government had access to the report, and Hanauer was only one of them. But look, Rep. Ray Lahood (R-IL) has admitted that this was payback, a shot across Harman's bow. Walter Pincus walks us through the all details again in a piece today in the WaPo.

Hoekstra's tenure has committee chairman has been one long decline into politicization of intelligence and of the oversight process. He hit rock bottom with the Hanauer incident. He was sitting on the Cunningham report because of its embarrassing findings: his fellow GOP committee member was running amok engaged in criminal conduct right under Hoekstra's nose. He and the Administration had been sitting on the politically explosive NIE on Iraq, which mysteriously didn't get distributed to members of the Intel Committee as it normally would have.

In one last spasm of coverup and denial, Hoekstra--and the rest of the GOP leadership--lashed out at a mid-level staffer. It's a disgrace.

Another Gemayel assassinated in Lebanon, this time the minister of industry Pierre Gemayel.

I don't know why I have such a clear memory of when his uncle, Bashir, was assassinated in 1982 before taking office as Lebanon's newly elected president. Maybe it was because it was the same day Grace Kelly died in Monaco. A strange association. All hell broke loose in Lebanon shortly thereafter, and things are similarly tenuous there now.

CQ: House Ethics Committee investigation of the Mark Foley matter "may end with a whimper, not a bang"--but not until mid-December.